assad speech 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The overthrow of Syrian dictator Basher Assad is not yet imminent, but should it
occur, a bloodbath between Syria’s various sects would likely follow, leading
Israeli experts on Syria told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
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neighboring Iraq, Syria’s diverse population – made up of Sunni Muslims, Druse,
Kurds and other groups, who are ruled by the minority Alawites – could, upon the
collapse of the Assad regime, turn on each other in a bloody civil
“I think there would be a bloodbath if Assad falls. The Iraqi
situation is relevant,” said Eyal Zisser, a professor of Middle Eastern and
African History at Tel Aviv University.
Zisser, who formerly headed the
university’s Moshe Dayan Center Middle East think tank added, “We’re not there
yet. The protests are however getting bigger, and more and more forces are
joining in. They are spreading to other parts of the country.”
same time, around half of the Syrian population, concentrated in the major urban
centers of Damascus and Aleppo, are “sitting on the fence” and not taking an
active part in protests calling for Assad to leave.
“They are frightened
of the unknown, and of the anarchy that could follow,” Zisser
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Asked how important a role Islamist groups were playing in recent
events, Zisser said, “We must remember that 40 percent of Syrians are
minority groups. This means it is not easy for Islamists to take over.
They are there as a political force, but they don’t have exclusive
From an Israeli perspective, decision-makers have grown
accustomed to “the Satan that we know,” Zisser said, referring to
Assad “gave us stability in the Golan – but he also tightened
relations with Hezbollah and Iran,” he noted.
Dr. Mordechai Kedar, of Bar
Ilan University’s Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, said that
“everything we knew” about Syria has become outdated due to recent
Kedar, who served for 25 years in military intelligence, and
specialized in Syria, added that the Muslim Brotherhood “are in the background,
not as an organized group... but as an idea.”
Kedar agreed with Zisser’s
evaluation that a collapse of the Assad regime would result in large-scale
violence, adding that Syria could split up into smaller states following civil
In such a scenario, “many Muslims will chase Alawites with knives
– who would in turn have to flee to the Ansariya mountains in western Syria,
their traditional lands,” Kedar said. “In such a case, Syria could be
divided into six parts: an Alawite state in the West; a Kurdish state in the
North, as in Iraq; a Druse state in the South; and a Beduin state in the east,
in the Dir al-Zur region. A Sunni Muslim state in Damascus and another in Aleppo
could also rise” he added.
“Six homogenous states could appear on the
ruins of Syria,” Kedar said.
The analyst has described Assad’s move to
cancel longstanding emergency laws, which have been in place for 50 years, as
“late, small, and unsatisfactory.”
“The Syrians are jealous of their
brothers in Egypt and Tunisia – but fear that the regime will act as Gaddafi
has, and slaughter its citizens, if his back is against the wall,” said Kedar.
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